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Review ~ Spotlight on Learning Styles

Full of information about students’ learning styles and how as language teachers we can take this into account when planning lessons.
Reviewed for TEFL.net by Lara Promnitz-Hayashi
Spotlight on Learning Styles

Spotlight on Learning Styles

The light bulb goes on in your head; you finally had an idea and have an awesome lesson planned for your language class. The activity is foolproof and fun! You teach the class in excitement only to find that not all students are as enthusiastic as you and you feel let down and a little confused. How did the lesson you put so much time and effort into flop? If this has happened to you then Spotlight on Learning Styles is the perfect book for you. It is a great new book in Delta’s Teacher Development Series. Just the title made me feel optimistic and I was not disappointed when I opened the book.

Every language teacher has struggled to motivate and get students participating eagerly in the classroom. Often it is not the teacher’s fault. Rosenberg raises the interesting point that teachers tend to teach their students in a way that they best learnt themselves. Just as all teachers have different teaching styles, students have different learning strategies too. Everyone has had the conversation about how you learn better. Maybe you preferred a textbook, maybe you were better when the classwork was more hands on, or maybe you were better when it was more visual or when you were analytical. Everyone learns in different ways and as teachers we need to be aware of this! This is an informative book investigating not only students’ learning strategies but also those of the teacher.

The book is divided into three parts. Part A is theoretical in nature and is basically an introduction to learning styles. It one of the most informative and interesting introductions I have ever read. I learnt a lot about not only the different learning styles students have but also how that relates to teaching styles too. This section looks at “Learners and their learning styles”, “Learners and their teachers”, “Teachers and their learners”, “Teachers and their teaching styles”, “Spotlight on learning” and “Spotlight on teaching”. Finally the book discusses three different learning styles: VAK (Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic- emotional and motoric), Global & Analytic, and Mind Organisation.

Part B is divided into four chapters and begins with a brief summary of the learning styles discussed in Part A and how this section of the book will be set out with activities and outcomes. This section is full of extremely useful information and includes an array of different activities for each learning strategy. Chapter One focuses on the strategies themselves, investigating how both teachers and students learn and how to build awareness of this. It begins with a checklist and breakdown of learner strategies divided into each learning style which can be done with students and be used for discussion. This is then followed by teacher strategies for each learning style and is extremely easy to understand.

Chapter Two focuses entirely on Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic learning styles. These styles are further divided into 5 sections; Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic Emotional, Kinaesthetic Motoric and finally Mixed VAK. The first page lists the activities that are found in the chapter and the activities have titles that are easy to guess the activity theme from. Each activity is detailed thoroughly, outlining grammar points, activity set-up and steps. Lastly, there is a style spectrum which shows the aspects of each part of the activity in relation to other learning styles. Chapter Three focuses on Global-Analytic learning styles and Chapter Four focuses on Mind Organisation and both of these chapters are formatted exactly the same as Chapter Two.

There are a number of reasons why I like this section. Firstly, its layout is so simple, and easy to follow. Secondly, the activities are easy to set-up and execute! And they are really interesting and diverse. Of course it is personal choice which activities you choose and this will be depend of a number of factors, but one positive is that the activities can be easily adapted to suit your situation. That is a huge plus! Thirdly, I really like how the activities are summarized in relation to parts of the activity and how they relate to other learning styles.

The final section of the book is Part C. This section begins with a summary of Parts A and B and expands on everything covered in the hope that teachers can advance to further approaches and activities. Rosenberg introduces this concept through a number of reflective questions, specifically if you tried any of the activities from Part B and then how you can move forward and further develop your teaching skills and ideas. This section is then divided into Further Approaches (Experiential Learning, The 4MAT System, Multiple Intelligences, Neuro-linguistic Programming and Environmental Preferences).

Overall I found this book to be not only a great resource but also very interesting. I found the activities to be easy to follow and my students enjoyed them as they catered for all learning styles and differing language proficiency. I highly recommend this book. Rosenberg did a great job.

Reviewed by Lara Promnitz-Hayashi for TEFL.net August 2013

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TEFL.net : TEFL Book Reviews : Teaching : Review ~ Spotlight on Learning Styles